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chris-grayling-conservative-conference-2016At the 2016 Conservative party conference in Birmingham, transport secretary Chris Grayling claimed that “We need better (rail) services to places like Milton Keynes, Northampton and Coventry”, and
“get more freight off the roads and onto rail”.

[Chris Grayling, speech as written]

So how do we do that?

Easy. We create more space on our railways.

And how do we do that?

We build a new railway that links our major cities – so we’ve got more space for freight trains and commuter trains on our other busiest lines.

That Ladies and Gentlemen is why we need to press ahead with HS2.

Everyone will benefit from this new project.

A commuter who never uses the new fast service will benefit from the extra space it will free up on their lines.

The motorist who never uses a train, will have a quicker journey as we get more freight off the roads.

And if we need to build a new railway, why on earth wouldn’t we build a new, state of the art one for the coming century.

As can be seen from the video of the speech, these remarks didn’t seem to find much favour with the audience.

In essence, the ‘commuter benefits’ of HS2 would be almost entirely restricted to a small number of travellers from Northampton and Milton Keynes. Most Euston commuters do not use the fast lines, which HS2 is ‘supposed’ to relieve. And how cutting its fast trains to London by a third is a ‘benefit’ for Coventry, has yet to be explained.

The speed and acceleration characteristics of freight trains are very different to passenger ones, so if mixed traffic operation continued on the West Coast Main Line, the potential for more goods movement would be small. There seems to be no prospect of removing all passenger trains from the fast or the relief lines. Furthermore, much of the West Coast freight traffic involves using tracks shared with the Overground in London, which are busy all day.

A 250 mph railway with just eight stations is completely unsuitable for Britain’s economic geography, in which large cities are spaced a hundred miles or less apart.

Written by beleben

October 6, 2016 at 10:26 am

One Response

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  1. In terms of journey times, the current 112-113 ml London-Birmingham routes can with 125mph running currently permitted on one and 100+ formerly given permission on the other (with a better alignment for continuous high speeds which saw AVERAGE speeds of 100 mph recorded in 1962 by the prototype Class 47 – passing through Bicester at 105mph), then overlaying the timetabled performance of daily (and even hourly) trains on the E, W and GW main lines, and the fact that the Warrington-Euston, journey (1h 15-1h 20) often arrives up to 10 minutes early at Euston, and equally win back 10 minutes heading North to Glasgow, can overlay to deliver a 55-60 minute London-Birmingham Journey on existing routes – which could be proved now (with a special concession – some trains ran London-Birmingham in 60 minutes in previous tests I believe) and delivered in 2-4 years.

    Far more relevant is in terms of resilience, 2 key links, plus further options, could enable longer blockades of WCML (2 tracks at a time) to deliver gauge clearances, and grade separated junctions. Connection of GC/GW to WCML at Wembley with a link back at Coventry that will enable a Euston-Coventry (1 Hour) journey without the current 46 minyte added time to meander at 25mph around Ealing and Greenford and find paths on the singled Leamington-Coventry line. This also offers freight some alternative routes into Birmingham Inland Port and Hams Hall via Saltley, especially if the 4 tracks are renovated or restored on the GW line into Birmingham. Even for everyday current operation the lack of an alternative route between Euston and Rugby creates massive problems, when a rack is lost by any form of breakdown. Combining a route via Banbury with connections and restoring track on the Midland route to use this between Wigston and Bedford or St Albans gives a second choice of route.

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    October 6, 2016 at 11:21 am

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